Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas and Cookies!

Christmas Sunday 2008
The past two weeks before Christmas Sunday had been very busy. We had planned to have a fellowship time after the evening service so I needed to make Christmas cookies and Pumpkin Chocolate breads and other goodies. In addition, I wanted to make cookies for the youth group party, the childrens' program party, the Ladies Bible study and English classes. I only make rolled out sugar cookies once a year. They are not my favorite! I like drop cookies. Mix. Drop. Bake. Eat. Easy. The rolled out ones are a big pain! Mix, chill the dough, roll, cut, roll again, cut, roll again, bake, cool, frost, eat. The 'eat' just comes way too late. Anyway, we made sugar cookies. MANY sugar cookies. Hundreds of sugar cookies. Some we feed to the dogs too! (Yep, I burnt them!) The days were so busy with homeschooling, visiting, cleaning, decorating and baking.
I also did a lot of praying. We have had some visitors come to church, but not many. I've been so burdened about some ladies who have not yet come to church. Their children have become growing Christians, but the parents have not yet found time for Christ.
The top of the roof of the Shkoze church blow off recently and the roof has been leaking terrible. I thought Christmas Sunday we are all going to have to sit with umbrellas inside the church! Thankfully, the rain let up some, but I did notice that Nathan and Geni looked rather damp after the service! There was 15 of our faithful member in church in Shkoze Sunday morning.
The evening service was a great surprise! The people started trickling in. First 3, then 2, then 15, then another 5. With each group there was a visitor or 2 or 3 or more! In the end we counted 47 people! We only have 33 chairs! We added some kitchen chairs, benches, and Nathan ended up on the ground! 7 visitors were mothers of our teens, others were aunts and cousins. 2 of the mothers are ladies I have really been burdened about! Norman made a presentation of 'Mary did you know?' in Albanian with pictures of the Birth and Crucifixion of Jesus. It was very powerful. There were tears in many eyes. Norm preached a wonderful Christmas message on Mary's praise to God (Luke 1).
As one mother kissed me good-bye in the traditional Albanian fashion cheek to cheek (6 times since it was Christmas I think!), she said, “I can come every week? You have this church every week?” I assured her she was welcome EVERY week! Another mother said, “These songs you sing are so encouraging! I wish we had music like that in our house.” Later, her son told us that he has convinced her to come every week. We will really be praying she will.

Christian Friends

I am so thankful for Christian friendships! I have a precious friend in San Francisco, Sofia, who has helped me so much with our ladies new project of selling crochet and knitted items. We are working on finding some things that they can make well and that will sell! Presently the ladies are working on hats and small purses and, of course, many doilies! I am trying to help them with design and colors.
Another dear friend I have here in Albania, Teuta. She has been helping me find jobs for some of the ladies who need to work. This week she went out of her way to find jobs for 2 ladies! It is so special when others make my burden their burden! Gal 6:2

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Baby is Crying

A baby is crying. No, you can't hear her because she does not yet have a voice. Her mother said she can not go though another pregnancy nor can she feed another child. All I can hear is the baby crying. My face is wet with her tears. I understand that this happens everyday in every country. I just did not want to see it happen to my friend, the mother of my little English students.
I was just starting our first ladies Bible study and in she walked. I was so thrilled that she would attend for the very first time. We kissed cheek to cheek in the traditional way, and her face was clouded with pain. 'I'm pregnant', she uttered. I'm going to have it 'removed', I can't take another pregnancy, another child!' I begged and pleaded offering to take the child myself. In the end the choice is up to her.

A mother is crying. I watched from a distance today as two of my dear friends were in deep conversation. It was obvious that they were discussing a burden the size of a semi-truck. Later, I heard the story. “Please, please could you help me find work. I will do anything. Just enough to buy bread for the kids and I.” I looked at this lady on Sunday and I was surprised at how thin she had gotten over the summer. I understand a little more now. Her husband is gone. He may come back he may not. She is alone. The washer is broke. The kids need food, clothes...

A missionary is crying. Today was suppose to be a celebration. We had our first ladies Bible study! 10 ladies attend, 2 of which are yet unsaved. We ate peanut butter cookies and drank American coffee. The lesson went great, I was able to express my heart in Albanian. The ladies listened and made many comments, good comments. Still, my heart is so heavy. So many broke pieces, so many broken dreams, broken people.
Please pray with me that the Great Physician will hold this dear little baby who does not have a change for life, please pray that He will help this mother crying for help and food, and that He will comfort a heartbroken missionary who can not carry it all alone.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Being in two places at one time

Being in two places at one time

When my husband and I first surrendered to missions I did not understand that we have responsibilities both in the foreign field and also stateside. On our first furlough, I came back to the states disorientated and confused at to what was required of me. I felt so torn being away from the new baby Christians in Albania, and I also had this feeling that I no longer 'fit' in the states. I had fears too: Would I forget the language? Will the people continue to attend church while we are away? Will the stateside churches want to see us again?

As we started that first furlough and we began sharing what the Lord had been doing in our lives and in the lives of the Albanians. We began meeting people who truly had a heart for missions. I meet ladies who have become precious friends to me. People started asking questions, getting interested in missions, new churches began supporting us, some even wanting to visit. Upon our return to the field, we began receiving encouraging emails, birthday cards, and packages for ministry and even personal packages! We have had a few visitors and a young lady recently did her summer internship with us.

What have I learned? I've been given a privilege from the Lord and our supporting churches to live and work as a missionary in Albania. I also have a privilege to share the blessings along with the trials that we experience with our churches. I personally have been blessed by the friendships I have made on furlough. Just yesterday I received an e-mail from one of our supporting pastor's wife. She did not know that I was having an extremely difficult day. She just wrote. My heart was so encouraged!

So, you see, I am in two places at one time. My heart is here in Albania being a support to Norm, homeschooling Nathan and Bethany, and teaching the women and children. My virtual heart is in the emails, thank you cards to supporters, blogs, pictures, updates, and prayer letters. We continue to cry out “Come over into Macedonia (olden day Albania!) and help us!”

You too were in two places at once! When you wrote that missionary! Or sent that email – (not a forward!) Prayed for a missionary kid who might be struggling. Your love was felt in the life of the person you reach out to touch. You just don't know what a short two-line email could do for a missionary. THANK YOU!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Everyone love a good contest and Albanian teens are no different! We have been having a contest in youth group since January. We try to add new ways for the kids to earn points for their team while also encouraging Biblical principles. It has been amazing to see the kids who now attend with their Bibles, do their lessons, attend Sunday services and bring friends. This past week I forgot to assign a verse for the kids to memorize from their lesson. So, when they came this week I was curious who had learned a verse.

When if came time to do points, every teen had chosen a verse to learn from the week's lesson. What surprised me the most was many of the teens learned 3 or 4 verses instead of just one! They all crowded around me to say their verses! One girl, Bruna, memorized 8 verses that week! What a joy to see them participating and going over and beyond the average! Oh, that we all could be Christians that went over and beyond for Christ every day!

Blessings upon Blessings!

It is always a thrill when someone comes to know the Lord as Saviour. This Saturday was excited for that reason and also more so!

We have been praying for an 11 year old boy, Dori 2 (since we have two 'Doris'), who has been attending children's program and church services. Last Sunday during Norm's message I could tell the Lord was really working in Dori's heart. He had tears in his eyes as Norm explained the love of God for us.

This week in children's program Rachael Hildebrant gave a wonderful lesson on Jesus calming the storm. She introduced salvation so beautifully by saying, this same Jesus who calmed the storm want to come into your life. Then she gave the plan of salvation.

After the lesson and closing prayer, there was great discussion among the boys. Then a bold Vici stated loudly, “Dori and Geni have not done the Prayer of Salvation!” I hushed them all and told them that if the boys wanted to accept the Lord they could come and talk to me. I always want the Holy Spirit to do the work of conviction in the hearts of unbelievers.

During the craft time one of our most faithful teens, Dori 1, came to me with Dori 2. “He really wants to get saved. Can you help us?' So, we went into the church room and sat down. 2 other boys, Geni 2 and Denis, asked if they too could hear about salvation. Geni 1 guarded the door the entire time not allowing anyone to bother us. “Shhhh! They are getting saved in there! Shhhh!”

I went through the plan of salvation, and Dori 1 was so excited to share his testimony. He was saved last summer when Pastor Allen came for a visit. He also help the boys understand their separation for God and need for a Savior, Jesus Christ. I was so thrilled that this young boy, only 14 years old, was leading his friends to the Lord!

In the end I asked Dori 1 if he would help them pray and accept the Lord. Dori 1 bowed his head and folded his hands and lead each boy in prayer. Dori 1's hands shook as he lead them in pray, ever so often, he would say, “Now what teacher? is that right teacher?” It was so precious! Dori 2, Geni and Denis all trusted in the Lord that day with the help of their friend, Dori 1!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Puppies Puppies and more Puppies!

I'm not sure what it is about me, but I have a hard time seeing anything die. Such was the case as few weeks ago when I heard horrid screeching noise coming from our little street. Nathan looked out the window and informed me that an old man was hitting some poor little puppies with a stick. An old grandma came out of her 3rd floor apartment and yelled down to the man. I rush downstairs and outside to find 4 little puppies all laying in the road soaking wet from the rain. At first I was scared to touch them because they looked dead. One neighbor lady stood at a distance giving me advice. Another man stood off hoping not to be any part of the rescue. I slowly lifted one up and he wiggled a little. I put him in a small plastic box I bought for the rescue. Then I got the next one and laid him beside his brother. I saw the other two, but realized my box was not large enough. I did not want to go back in for fear the man would return with his stick. So, I piled the next 2 on top of their siblings. We brought the 4 puppies inside and dried off their wet, muddy bodies. We then started to feed them warm milk. They did not know how to drink from a bowl, so we got a plate. It took a little work to teach them to lap up the milk. Then the neighbor lady rang the bell to tell me there was one more puppy! 5 puppies! I later found out that the man with the stick is her husband. Interesting that she brought the puppy to me not him! It has been a lot of work and also a lot of reward. We have found homes for 2 of the puppies, and hope to find homes for the other 3 very soon.
As I feed the ever hungry little fluff balls, I thought of our 2 little churches. God brings us people who are hurting and broken. We bring them in, care for their wounds and share Jesus with them. We know the man with the stick is close by waiting to hurt our people. We see the others watching from a distance, wondering if we are real. We continue with routine feedings of the Milk of the Word. We pray that they will understand, that they will grow. Soon they will mature and have spiritual children of their own. Maybe the door bell will ring again and it will be another person who needs Christ. Could you pray?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A missionary is like a deep sea diver

A missionary is like a deep sea diver. He dives down deep into the ocean to find the treasure, but without his oxygen tank he will die. Without someone watching from above for signs of danger, he will be injured. He can collect artifacts on his dive, but who can he pass them to? Who does he hand his treasure to if there is no one in the boat?
Some of you in the boat are tired and weary. Please know that we need you and are so thankful for you. We need more people to come in the boat. We need more people to fill our air tanks and pray for our treasures. We need you. We need you to be a active member of the boat crew. You are so important. We know that without a strong support team each diver or missionary will sink. There will also be times when a boat crew member will dive down and help the diver during an interesting situation. On the mission field that is a mission trip or a short-term assignment. These are wonderful opportunities to see the work and be a part of the catch! Please, find a boat, be an active crew member, and jump in!

Goodbye Albania

Empty boxes fill the room. A home once full of children's voices and scampering feet now is a quiet room full of reminders. Birthday parties for orphans who have never had a party just for them, movie night, good strong Illy coffee, laughter and spilled kool-aid, girls night out, Bible lessons, and hope.
Missionaries come and go in every country, but they also leave an impact each time. As I pack up the pieces of their lives I realize that each book, each plate tells a story. They came to stay forever. They sold their house in the states, the kids beds, the bikes, even their dog to come to Albania to serve. Now, their dreams are put on hold as the Lord has allowed circumstances beyond their control to take them stateside.
It is a chapter closing in their lives and even in ours. It is a difficult to see our dear missionary friends leave the country. It is sad to see the people left behind who are affected by their leaving. I know their hearts are still in Albania, but for a missionary there is so much more needed to continue a ministry.
As missionaries in a foreign land, we are family to each other. We laugh together, cry together and eat burnt or raw or fatty or grisly or delicious suflaqas together. When one of our members is gone, we notice. We miss them. We LOVE you guys!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What do you need?

"What do you need?"
I am asked this question now and then by churches and friends alike who want to encourage us on the mission field. I have thought about the question a lot and when I get beyond the usual answers that pop into my head like brown sugar and kool-aid, I realized what we really need.
We need HELP! Sometime I feel like a very small person trying to win a whole country to the Lord. The task becomes overwhelming. The needs seem so great.
I believe we need help. Our arms are getting tired and we need someone to come along and hold them up for a while. We need to hear an encouraging verse or prayer request answered. We need to hear that more people are coming to the mission field. We need help.
How do we get help? We pray. We pray that God will send help. We pray that he will send visitors to see the country, we pray that he will send missionaries to work together toward the same goal. We pray that Albanians hearts will be open to the Light of God's Word. We open our hearts and share our passion for Christ, and we pray.
Could you pray too?